If there is a lesson to be learned from this Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum discussion, it’s that you really need to test your marketing before you go out and spend a lot of money on equipment that won’t bring you anything in return. Everyone loves new equipment. The feel of it, the smell of it, the excitement of it. But all that wears off fast if you find yourself making monthly payments on equipment that is not being used.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I would encourage every lawn care business owner to test their market to find business before they start buying equipment. There is no harm in putting your feelers out and renting equipment on occasion for certain jobs.
Where I am located, I have found good profits in excavation and landscape work. While we also offer organic fertilization spray service too, I have found that it can be tough a tough service to start out marketing. Lawn mowing can also be very difficult to compete with as you may discover yourself competing against unregistered companies that work for next to nothing.
Being that I live near a lot of forestry, I have found good money in silviculture and wood chipping. The down side to wood chipping is that the start up costs can be about $30,000 however, that can also be a blessing as it creates a barrier of entry which keeps smaller, undercapitalized companies out of offering it. Not all profitable services will require large cash purchases. Pressure washing, for example, is a very big part of our business and yet is has much lower start up costs associated with it.
I started my lawn care company after doing a lot of research. I used the internet to find neighborhoods the wealthy lived in my area. I got started by offering lawn clean up’s and mowing. Next I expanded my services to include organic solutions to lawn problems, hedge trimming etc. That was the business plan and I bought all my equipment outright.
Within two weeks of getting started, I knew if I didn’t change things the company would fall flat on it’s face. It wasn’t for lack of contacts or the fact that we had higher end equipment, it simply came down to I would not match low ball lawn care quotes. That led me to begin offering organic lawn spraying as no one else had the products we did.
After questioning friends, family, customers and neighbors I began to test offer some light excavation services, which seemed to sell well. With the results of those tests, I decided to buy some excavation equipment. More jobs led to more equipment. This led to purchasing three excavators and ultimately five tractors with loaders, commercial diesel wood chippers, commercial lawn vac’s, wood splitters, 7 chain saws, and two industrial pressure washers.
Testing these services first, helped me change my business focus and led me down a different path. I now have 12 employees and continue to grow. I hope to be at 15 employees by this summer.
With the excavation and landscape services going so well, I decided to sell all the mowing accounts I had to a group of staff. I only kept the very large private communities I look after. Mowing really was a pain as people were far to fussy.
I am telling you all of this to save you time and some frustration. Start marketing first and rent equipment to test new services first. See what happens with the services and then scale up as the demand for services grows.”